If you’ve gotten the pesky notification that your attachment is too large, you’ve probably wondered why there’s size limits in the first place! It can be especially frustrating when sending/receiving larger files is a day to day part of your job. Thankfully, the limits have increased and the methods have gotten easier over the years, but it’s still worth an explanation.

Imagine if you threw an old couch in the back of your pick-up truck and took it to the post office to get mailed elsewhere. If you were to walk up to the service clerk and inquire about that service, they’d laugh in your face! A couch is simply too large for the post office to handle. Couches need to get transferred via a freight company. It CAN get sent electronically, but it requires a different level of service. It’s the same for large attachments. It can get emailed, but the email provider you use on a daily basis isn’t the best level of service. This is where file sharing services, zip files, etc. come into play.

Before we get into that, here’s some background context:

  • This request is usually generated by one of several cases:
    • Accountants needing to receive large amounts of tax documents from clients.
    • Law firms receiving legal briefs or videos for court hearings.
    • Marketing staff needing to send large files (like videos and high-res pictures) to vendors supporting them.
    • Field staff/clients needing to send photos to their IT support company from the field.
    • Large files (for example, applications) needing to be sent to clients/prospects.
    • A one-off large file needing to be sent to an outside individual.
  • The industry wide default is 10MB. This is very important, because even if your limit is higher, if the recipient’s limit is lower, they won’t be able to receive it.
    • Gmail’s limit is 25MB. After that, a link to Google Drive is inserted into the email copy.
    • AOL and Yahoo’s limit is also 25MB.
    • Outlook’s limit is 20MB.
    • Office365 has the highest limit, at 150MB.
  • If you use an in-house server for email, the limit has been 10MB for years and years.
    • If you’re looking to change the limits for just a few users on your in-house server, you’d have to change the limit to something higher for the entire organization and then set all the users (except for the special few/one) back to the lower limit on a mailbox-by-mailbox basis. Setting larger limits does have additional challenges though:
      • Depending on your Internet provider’s upload/download speed, sharing large files can take up your ENTIRE bandwidth! This leads to…
        • Temporary loss of Internet bandwidth for other activities, including CC processing, other email activity and Internet activity/connectivity.
      • It additionally opens you up to a DoS (Denial of Service) attack based on sending large files constantly to a user(s) mailbox(es). This can be difficult to diagnose and resolve requiring technical support.
      • It presents a security challenge when a user decides to leave an organization – the larger attachment sizes make it significantly easier for a user to email critical files/data to their personal account and then resign.

Assuming you don’t want to open that Pandora’s Box, here are a few things you can do:

  • Use a cloud based file sharing service. (Oftentimes, companies will already have an industry-specific option available.) If the files represent data that should not be available publicly (or to a competitor or hacker), you’ll want to look into security.
    • To be the MOST secure, we suggest encrypting the data locally, sending it to them and then telling them the password over the phone.
    • We recommend any of these file sharing services for your firms!
      • ShareFile
        • It has a Microsoft Outlook plug-in that lets you share/request files directly from the email platform, as well as include a link to do so in your email signature! Some of our outsourced IT clients use these perks!
        • There are three paid plans, ranging from $50-$122 a month. To reduce costs, begin with their 30-day trial.
        • Their plans aren’t priced per user--it’s unlimited!
      • TitanFile
        • They also have an Outlook plugin!
        • The recipients don’t need to have an account of their own, making it very user-friendly.
        • There’s no limitation on file size.
        • Their plans range from $16-$24 per user, per month. Start with a 15-day trial.
      • SmartVault
  • Alternative methods include:
    • Scanning PDFs at a reasonable resolution to keep size down.
    • Breaking files into several emails and/or adjusting the resolution (for pictures). For example, one email with three 4MB pictures attached will fail but three separate emails with one 4MB pic each will work.
    • Compressing the file by right-clicking on the document. This option is best when your file is only barely over the size limit. Compression typically eliminates about 20% of the total file size.
      • Keep in mind this method does not work for all file types, such as cell phone pictures.
    • If you are an EasyData member with our computer support company, you can use your storage device to share files! We do so frequently with our IT support services clients, and there’s no additional cost.

If you’re interested in learning more about our EasyData membership, get in touch! You can call or text us at 302-529-3700 or email us at [email protected].

headshot, owner, president, author, partners plus, IT company, IT services, SSD, recommendationBill Hogan is the Owner and President of Partners Plus. He has 40 years of experience in the technology industry, specifically IT support services. Bill has spoken at seminars all over the country about network management and published his latest book in 2018. Partners Plus was selected by PHL17 as the best Computer and Information Technology Support Company in the greater Philadelphia area in 2018.